Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

West Bromwich Albion accept that Jonathan Leko needs to leave The Hawthorns this summer after Sheffield Wednesday and Birmingham City had £1 million bids accepted, as reported by the Express and Star.

Cast your mind back to April 2016.

West Brom had already secured their Premier League status and, with just a few games left in the season, Baggies boss Tony Pulis threw a little-known 17-year-old in at the deep end.

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But if Leko was feeling the pressure of becoming the first player born in 1999 to start a top-flight fixture, he certainly didn’t show it.

Instead, he produced a performance full of skill, speed and brazen self-confidence, running West Ham’s defence ragged.

“He’s got unbelievable talent,” a breathless Pulis told the BBC.

The cap-wearing Welshman was not the only coach impressed by Leko’s dazzling debut at The Hawthorns more than four years ago. In the opposite dugout, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic was also left awe-struck by the teenager’s display.

According to the Express and Star, Bilic had not forgotten about Leko when he interviewed for the West Brom job in 2018, enquiring about how the England youth star had progressed two years after exploding on to the scene.

West Bromwich Albion’s Jonathan Leko (Reuters)

With the Baggies accepting £1 million offers from Wednesday and Birmingham, this feels like a classic case of ‘if you love someone, let them go’.

Bilic is a huge fan of the Congo-born 21-year-old.

But West Brom boast a number of quality wide players already and, while harbouring hopes of re-signing Callum Robinson and Grady Diangana, there is an acceptance at The Hawthorns that Leko needs to leave in order to progress his career.

The youngster produced nine goals and assists in 21 games on loan at Charlton last season. Clearly, he is ready for the rigours of the men’s game.

Returning to West Brom and sitting on the bench would do him no good whatsoever.

Lewis Storey/Getty Images

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